Speaking to a gathering of Democratic donors on Thursday night, Hillary Clinton placed blame for her election loss on two people, FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but her critics say Democrats should spend more time looking inward, as well.
Campaign headquarters was reportedly so fixated on data showing a healthy 5-point lead in Michigan that warnings from officials and volunteers in the state that more needed to be done were not heeded. At one point, union volunteers heading from Iowa to Michigan were sent back because the campaign was more concerned with putting Trump on defense in Iowa than playing offense in Michigan.
Chasing the prospect of an electoral landslide, Clinton expended resources in longshot states while campaign workers in Michigan were struggling to get any attention from headquarters at all.
“They were just an over-confident bunch in every way,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
O’Connell saw signs of trouble for Clinton, though.
“What the Clinton campaign missed, one of the biggest weaknesses, was overall, particularly with the Rust Belt, she didn’t have a strong message, and essentially she was nearly tone deaf with those folks,” he said.
Democrats scoffed at Trump’s promises to bring jobs back, but his message on trade resonated while Clinton’s support for free trade landed with a thud.
“At least he was selling those voters something.”
O’Connell also questioned Clinton’s confidence, given how strong of a showing Sen. Bernie Sanders had in the Rust Belt state primaries.
“Sanders was the one who told you… He was connecting with the very people in the Democratic Party who were pissed off,” he said.